Walter Smith outlines what Rangers require to compete, draws parallels with his time in charge

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The former Gers manager has urged the club to comprehensively back Mark Warburton in the transfer market.

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith has told Sky Sports that if the club want to challenge in the Scottish Premiership next season they must back Mark Warburton in this summer's transfer market in the way that they did for him during his time in charge.

Smith won 21 major trophies in 11-and-a-half years across two spells at Ibrox in the 1990s and late 2000s, success built mainly on the comparatively large sums of money he spent on players in the transfer market.

The 68-year-old brought in a raft of players from abroad and was known for paying transfer fees unlike those generally seen in Scotland, such as the then-club-record £4.5 million he persuaded the club to pay for Lazio and England star Paul Gascoigne in 1995.

Though the Gers have had to build themselves up from the bottom following their liquidation and financial problems, Smith insists they will have to start spending big again this summer to give Warburton an opportunity to build a side which can qualify for the Champions League and become successful and financially viable in the long run.

Smith told Sky Sports: "Rangers will have to support Mark Warburton in the manner I was supported as manager, to give him the opportunity to challenge. The board want the club to be up there and they have to find a way of doing so. 

"The economics of Scottish football are fairly straightforward for Rangers and Celtic. If you invest in your team and get to the Champions League, you make money. If you don't, you lose money. That's the biggest gamble.

"Rangers are in a totally different circumstance from Celtic, but they have to find a way. It can be done. We weren't in a great circumstance when I came back a second time. The club showed a reaction at that time and I'm fairly sure they will show a reaction now."

When Smith took over from Paul Le Guen to start his second spell in charge of the club in January 2007, Rangers were in ignominy, already out of the title race and having just crashed out of the League Cup at home to lower-league St. Johnstone.

The situation is different this time around, and Sunday's clash against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final will serve as something of an acid test as to how far off the pace the current Gers squad is.

However, Smith is likely right that some form of serious investment in the summer transfer market will be needed to make the club as competitive as possible next season when they return to the top-flight after four years away.

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